Alien Biology

A mysterious announcement with a touch of hype was presented last month, NASA was calling for a news conference in December. Could it be? Did NASA actually discover life on other planets?  Speculation exploded all over the internet! As it turns out, it failed commentators speculations. What they discovered was evidence of a bacterial strain found on Earth that was capable of metabolizing arsenic and incorporating it into structural molecules of the cell.

GFAJ-1, was found at Mono Lake in California. When a shortage of phosphorus occurs, this particular bacterial strain is able to incorporate arsenic into its biological structures. This may seem strange or counter-intuitive but the key is in its concentration which can render it  non-toxic when it reaches a certain level. Arsenic has similar chemical properties as phosphorus does. This certainly does not constitutes evidence for alien life forms!

Moreover, researchers discovered GFAJ-1 suffered a fitness loss. There was a 38% drop in growth rate when fed on arsenic rather than phosphorus and also the bacteria that was fed arsenic appeared structurally weaker than those fed on phosphorus as demonstrated by the robust integrity of the phosphorus fed cells in comparison to the arsenic-fed cells when prepared for analysis. Not only isn’t this proof for alien life forms, this observation wouldn’t be good for expectations in the framework of evolution.

This was well-orchestrated publicity stunt by NASA in order to obtain attention for itself. Speaking of alien life forms, a video appeared where AP reporter Seth Borenstein states, “Evidence for E.T. is mounting daily, but not proven,”. The video begins by claiming, “Science is not about blind faith” which is true, good science is not about blind faith, but he’s talking about no examples to go by but claim they know what they are looking for.  Borenstien states, “Lately, a handful of new discoveries make it seem more likely that we are not alone – that there is life somewhere else in the universe”. Alien biology is all about man’s imagination rather than emperical science.

How good are scientists speculating about what’s out there in space? It’s one thing to talk the big talk, it’s another thing to back up that talk. The Cassini mission which has been utterly amazing with it’s observations has gathered more observational data of the geysers on Enceladus. This phenomena continues to erupt out the south pole. How good were scientists at predicting such an observation on Enceladus? Scientists believed based on it’s assumed age of billions of years old that Enceladus should be an inactive moon, frozen out long ago. The geysers were discovered last year show bright jets shooting gas and dust outward at supersonic speeds.  These particles create the E-ring we see around Saturn. Active geysers would have never been predicted by scientists because of  very old age assumptions.  The solar system as well as the universe is way younger and yes there is more activity yet to be discovered! Now scientists speculated on the level of complexity of these geysers contain, the new data shows them to be more complex than previous thought.

My point is this, scientists who are into alien biology are going by blind faith, they have trouble predicting what’s in our own solar system let along trying to predict what is further out there!

2 thoughts on “Alien Biology

  1. Astrobiologists certainly do not go by blind faith, but this thing was indeed hyped up out of proportion, and might fall flat on its face if it does turn out to be a measurement error, as some people claim.

    I’m very sceptical about this find, but I’m not sceptical about science cleaning up its own act. If this research turns out to be rubbish, it will be scientists who will demonstrate this, not creationists.

  2. “My point is this, scientists who are into alien biology are going by blind faith, they have trouble predicting what’s in our own solar system let along trying to predict what is further out there! “

    The first thing Michael needs to appreciate is the difference between scientists and news reporters. The second thing he needs to learn is how to run news reports through a reasonableness filter. Michael’s problem in this regard is that, having apparently less knowledge of science than a novice in a nunnery, he has no basis for judging the reasonableness of any claim made by news reporters–or by other creationists—in the name of “science.”

    An example of Michael’s abject misunderstanding of the science of GFAJ-1. He states, “the key is in its concentration which can render [arsenic] non-toxic when it reaches a certain level.”

    This is of course absolute rubbish. Even Michael’s own following comments belie this statement: The growth rate dropped 38% on arsenic. The bacteria were structurally weak. What does this indicate, Michael? TOXICITY. Under extreme circumstances, forced to incorporate arsenic or die, the bacteria could, reluctantly, adapt to incorporate a (very small) amount of arsenic in place of phosphorus. Even at this, if Michael would deign to read the comments of other biologists, many would deny that the bacteria did in fact incorporate any arsenic,[1] and call for repeating the experiment under more controlled conditions.

    But Michael practices science by headline. This is one of the 49 reasons people laugh at creationists.


    [1] Some think the arsenic was actually sequestered in vacuoles. .

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